Lonely Planet Writer

The food start-up that lets you sample home cooking in California

A start-up from Oakland is trying to bring the sharing economy to home-cooked meals in California.

A photo posted by Josephine (@josephinemeals) on May 10, 2016 at 8:44am PDT

Josephine is a service that tries to connect people and communities through local cooks and their kitchens. The idea came to its two creators, Charley Wang and Tal Safran, after they spent some time with their friend’s mum Josephine when they first moved to California and didn’t know anyone. 

The experience of eating meals around the woman’s kitchen table introduced them to their community and the city they’d moved to, and inspired them to create a platform through which they could create similar experiences for others.

An online and app service that connects hungry people with willing local chefs and neighbours, Josephine describes itself as, “an online marketplace for home cooked food. We allow you to buy delicious, affordable, and authentic home cooked food directly from cooks in your community.” The service originally began in Oakland but now caters to the whole Bay Area after its original success.

Its website explains how it works. Chefs who apply to be part of the scheme are vetted for hygiene, as well as for the quality of their food before getting approved. Then they’re let loose and allowed cook whatever they want, and given complete creative freedom. People who wish to avail of some home-cooked local fare, have to simply go online or use the app, pick the meal, pay online, and then go over to the cook’s home kitchen to pick it up, thereby making a new acquaintance in the process.

A photo posted by Josephine (@josephinemeals) on Oct 21, 2015 at 5:36pm PDT

Much like Airbnb, its mission is to allow people to create their own little businesses while simultaneously incorporating intimate experiences with people in the community. Reviews too are used in the same way to create a level of transparency, with popular cooks being rated and starred by fans of their cuisine.

Suzie chopping away in her Albany kitchen! Only 8 portions left for her meal tonight bit.ly/suziedinner

A photo posted by Josephine (@josephinemeals) on Jun 3, 2015 at 12:10pm PDT

Plans are for the service to move to Seattle and LA in coming months, with ambitions for the simple community-binding idea to go national!